The new GenX books are here! The new GenX books are here!

Anyone who bothers to read this humble blog knows that I read… a lot. And from time to time I like to fancy myself a bit of literary opine-er, pontificating on and about the book or books that I happen to be reading at the given moment. In the past, I’ve always chosen the book. But that has recently changed.

Twice in about two weeks two different authors contacted me, asking if I would review their books. I was both surprised and delighted, and of course flattered. Often I figure the only people reading my blog are the few family and friends that no my fragile ego needs constant bucking up.

I’m also a little angsty over the prospect. First, it would be just my luck that such opportunities would come up just as I am starting my class at the community college  — reading and studying to do. And I’m on a  deadline to finish a short story to enter in a contest. Things always seems to come on like that, all at once. Make me nervous, and honestly want to downshift into comfy slack mode. But I’m determined to not do that this time.

Anyhoo… here are the two books that I’ve been asked to review.

First, a novel entitled Gen X by Tisha Kulak-Tolar, which I’m about two thirds of the way through already and should finish soon, and which is available at

And second, a nonfiction book about generation x in the workplace entitled What’s Next Gen X?: keeping up, moving ahead, and getting the career you want, by Tamara Erickson, which I’ve only overlooked briefly to start with but am eager to dig into. Usually, I’m not that interested in these workplace/business books about Generation X but recently I’ve been thinking that my own career — yes, I have a job! — away from the computer, this blog, my fiction efforts, could stand an upgrade. Hopefully, I get some useful info out of Tamara’s book.

Thanks to both authors for seeking me out. I promise to deliver.


The post I’m NOT going to write about JD Salinger’s death

Unless you’ve had your head up your backside this past week, you know that JD Salinger died [no link required – just google it for crying out loud]. Dude was 91, and he was healthy an active right until about the first of this year. Hope I’m that fortunate.

Anyhooo…I respect the way JD Salinger chose to live his life as much, if not more, than his work. And I’m not going tarnish that respect by blubbering about what his books meant to me.

I’ll just say this: He lived. He wrote. He died.

And I just hope that some of what he wrote will yet be available to read.

The Gilligan Island Effect

Just got back from my 2nd day (well, night) of class. Man, that campus is desolate when 10pm classes let out. Not really scarey or spooky, though. Not like being at Wayne State in downtown Detroit at night. Just quiet. There’s something about a college campus at night that I really dig.

Anyhoo… second class, second GenX popculture reference. This time it was Gilligan’s Island, when the instructor was pointing out spots on a photograph of the earth from space. He was identifying Hawaii so of course he had to make the Gilligan Island reference. How could he not? Right.

And like that I had the title for my first CTR (Current Topic Report).  Every few weeks we have to select a news article that we can relate to what we’ve been talking about in class. For my firt one I’m using an article about bicycles made out of bamboo. My intention it to relate it to sustainiblity since bamboo is a renewable resource where as metals are non-renewable. And according to the article bamboo is indigenous in many different place in the world. And if you can make bikes out of bamboo why not other things? Also, this bamboo bike movement is working to help alleviate poverty in developing nations by teaching people from such places to make bicycles out of bamboo thus providing them with a means of transportation.

But the title of my CTR, right. I’m going to call it the Gilligan’s Island Effect. Pretty catchy, eh?

I just started thinking about how they made everything out of bamboo on Gilligan’s Island. Even a pedal-powered car at one point. Maybe it was just a fantastical TV show, but why couldn’t some of it become reality? Why couldn’t we make things out of bamboo instead? Things like broom and mop and duster handles. Swiffers too. Think of all the little things that you see in place like Target that don’t need to be metal or plastic. It boggles the mind.

Anyway. That’s my topic and I’m sticking too it.

Curious, irrelevant aside. The young woman sitting in front of me had multiple piercing in her ears, even up on the top part. I didn’t realize that people still did that. Also, she had a tiny tattoo of a star on one hand and a tattoo of some musical notes just behind one ear. I wasn’t ogling. I just happend to notice. I can’t helpt it. It was an interesting detail. And I collect such details. Store them in my head for possible later use in a piece of fiction.

GenX parents v. teachers

Courtesy JenX67, here are a couple of really great advice/informational article for teachers re: GenX parents.

The first one is by a GenX mom who fully admits to stealth-parenting, which is so much cooler a label (I mean if you have to have one) than helicopter parenting, which was/is a Boomer thing.

Here’s a taste (i.e. quote from the article):

“They’ll go over your head if they don’t get the results they want from you,” says Anita Thomas, who taught science in a public school in Beaufort, South Carolina. That makes sense, says Lisa Chamberlain, author of Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction. “Anything that smacks of bureaucratic red tape or protocol is an irritant,” she explains. “We had to fend for ourselves, which is great if you’re an entrepreneur, but not when you’re a parent.”

The second is by generational guru Neil Howe:

Many Gen-X parents acquire a surprising degree of (self-taught) expertise about teaching methods and will bring stacks of Web printouts into meetings with teachers. A quip often used by former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings (herself a late-wave Boomer, born in 1957) speaks to many Gen-X parents: “In God we trust. All others bring data.”

This local, pragmatic, bottom-line perspective certainly contrasts with the more global, idealistic and aspirational perspective of Boomers. It has driven the rapid growth of parent-teacher organizations that opt out of any affiliation to the National Parent Teacher Association. According to many younger parents, the PTA is simply too large, too inflexible, too politically correct and too deferential to the educational establishment.

GenX in midlife crisis mode

Ever wonder if you’re going through a mid-life crisis?

Think about it. GenXers are reaching that age.

Anyway, I do. And other times I just think that I’m not getting enough fiber in my diet.

I just turned 42 (which btw is NOT twice as cool as turning 21) and that definitely put me in that mid-life freak out range. Still, I have to say that I’ve no desire to buy a sports car. I like my Civic — it’s plucky. Maybe because I’m not really losing my hair I’m not as prone to a mid-life crisis. Still.

I’ve developed a nostalgic fixation on things from my childhood and adolescence. Most recently it’s been BMX. I got super geeked when the library where I worked decided to start carrying BMX Plus, one of my favorite magazine when I was kid. I’d read each issue until literally fell apart. Also, this past summer I rescued the BMX bike that I gave to my nephew years ago. He’s 17 now, a senior, and predictably more interested in cars than bikes. The bike is an SE Quadangle and it needs some work to say that least — new wheels, brake cable, refurbishing of crank barrings and chain etc. But that’s going to be a project this summer.

But from what I’ve read this is a healthy way to channel mid-life crisis energy. At least, according to this WSJ article it is. And the WSJ wouldn’t lie. They’re a newspaper after all. And GenXer’s are more likely to take a healthy approach to mid-life than, oh, say Boomers — the kings of freak out!

Leave it to GenXers to take it in the opposite direction of  Baby Bo0mers. And it isn’t just oh so ironic that that direction would be a positive one. Because, you know, Generation X is cynical and pessimistic and being positive just isn’t cool, right.

The undead invade featured blog spot

I’m big zombie fan, as if you didn’t know. And why? Duh.  Because….

Zombies rule, vampires drool!

Frankly, I don’t get this resurgence in the popularity of vampires. Except for Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain  — it kicks ass on all all that Twilight sop. But then I was never a big vampire fan. Never got into Ann Rice and the whole vamp movement in the 80s. Blah!

Anyhoo… that’s all in the past, where it should stay — hear me vampires. Heed me — I’ve got garlic.

Zombie are the future, which is why my new featured blog pertains to zombies.

First class: postmortem

Any nervousness that I had about returning to school quickly disipated when the instructor, while taking attendance, pulled the Beuller gag from Ferris Beuller’s Day Off when he came to a name that no one answered to. (awkward sentence, eh):

Beuller…?  Beuller…? Bueller ?

I nodded, snickering. And I wasn’t the only one either. There were a few others, seriously. I mean, they still regularly show that movie in reruns, right.

In any case, the class seems like it will be interesting, because the instructor is interesting, and interested in teaching. That makes a big difference.

It was hard to sit still, although considering I sit all day at my job you’d think I’d be used to it.

On my way to class, I couldn’t help wondering if I’m doing this for a confidence/ego boost. It’s like when I took that communications class down at Wayne State and actually got more than 100% on a test because I also answered the bonus question correctly. And my review of the book we had to read was probably much better than most — it was a freshman course. I pulled an easy A. Of course, this is a science class, which is not something I studied very little after high school, only the minimum requirement.


After class, walking across campus in the dark I was reminded of my days in undergrad, not at MCC but at Eastern Michigan, when I’d wander campus late at night or when I’d be coming back from a late night class. I loved that feeling, when the campus was quiet and dark and the air was cold and crisp. I guess I miss it. I was good at school. Not so much in the real world.

It was driving home that I was reminded of my MCC days some 20 years ago. On a Thursday night, I’d be leaving campus at 10pm, when the library closed, and I’d head for my buddy Mick’s place for pre-bar beers before going out. We’d be out late, sometimes untile 3 or 4  in the morning, even later. Often Thursdays would run into Fridays would run into Saturdays would run into… Suddenly it was Monday morning and time for school again. I could do that then. Not anymore.

First Class

Am I going on a trip?

Unfortunately not. Because Costa Rica sounds so good right now. Or Mexico. Or The Bahamas. Anywhere with some sunshine and beaches and fruity drinks in funny glasses would do. Sigh…………

But that ain’t going to happen right now, and even if it were I wouldn’t be flying first class.

Anyhoo… as per usual I digress.

I’m talking about my first class tonight, at the community college, from 8-10pm.

Am I nervous? Perhaps a tinge. But it’s a familiar nervousness, one that harkens back to my college days, a simpler time, or so it seems to me now. But I’ve probably blocked out the BS and anguish, like that one psycho girlfriend <shutter>.

If anything I’m more concerned about being able to stay awake. And I’m not looking forward to trekking across campus form the parking lot in the cold and the dark, and then back again after class.

I’m not worried about being able to handle the class, but it may cut into my writing time, especially when I’ve got myself on a deadline to submit a story to a contest at the end of March.

Not to self: bring lots of change for vending machines — junk food and coffee/pop will be essential.

I am curious as to how it is going to feel to perhaps be one of the older students in class, although with it being at night the age gap likely won’t be as great. Also, I don’t look my age — 42, which BTW does NOT feel twice as cool as turning 21, despite what you may be thinking.  It’s not all like — woo hoo, I get have regular digital-rectal exams!

The other thing is that I’ll be going to class after a full day of work, and picking up my daughter from school and helping her with her homework plus getting her dinner. And tonight we have to go grocery shopping and pick up a prescription from the Rite Aid. Whew.

When I was young 20-something, all I had to do was drag my ass to class one time, sometime after a long night of partying, sometimes still slightly inebriated.

In any case, I’ve got the first chapter of the text book read, so I got that going for me…

Back to school at 42

I registered to take a course this winter at the community college, and thought it might be interesting to blog about it.

I wondered if it will be like that new TV show, Community? That would be so cool.

I went the compus today to pick up my textbook ($114 used; I remember when I thought it was outrageous to pay $50 for a new textbook. Yikes!) and found it looking pretty much the same as when I went there right after graduating high school, that is after going to and dropping out of two other colleges first. It’s the same unattractively functional campus, but then what more does a community college campus have to be.

Walking into K-building, the Student Center, to hit the bookstore, I noted that it smelled the same. It wasn’t a bad smell, it wasn’t a stink. It wasn’t a particularly effervescient smell either, but it was a memory trigger for me. I spent the better part of three years on that campus, taking classes that I was mostly exicited about and eager to do well and move on to a university, preferably one away from home. I also worked on the school newspaper, when they had one. Apparently they don’t anymore. You might think that working on a community college newspaper wouldn’t be all that exciting, and you’d be right, normally, but that particularl sememster was an election year — Bush v. Dukakis, and because Macamb county was lousy with Reagan Democrats the candidates hit it hard. In fact, the saying back then was that so goes Macomb county so goes Michigan and so goes Michigan so goes the country. A big spot light was cast. And I got to be in the middle of it, attending press conferences for Bush, Dukakis, and Reagan. It was pretty amazing. I even got to talk with some of the secret service, plus meet reporters from The NY Times, The Chicago Tribune etc. It was a great experience to kick off a journalism career with, but I wasn’t that interested in journalism. I wanted to be fiction writer. And at the time I didn’t see how being a reporter would help me get there. Shows how dense I was back then. Who knows where I could have gone from there? And what kind of experience I might gained. Ah, well….

Anyhoo… it was interesting to be back on my old academic stomping grounds. But a little depressing as well. I’m not going to be one of the young, cool  hip students (if indeed they exist at community collge) but one of the mid-life returning students. I remembered those people. Not that there was anything wrong with them, they usually made the best lab and study partners. But it seemed a bummer that school was more like work to them than an enjoyable experience. I enjoyed school immensely. I guess because I was good at it. But I wonder if I’ll enjoy this time around as well. We’ll see, I guess.

Of course, I imagine there won’t be too many of those young hipster students in my class, since it runs from 8-10pm TTH.